The Note: White House Seeking Clarity On Egypt

Jan 31, 2011 9:10am


As the situation in Egypt continues to escalate, the Obama administration has been modulating its message when it comes to the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour over the weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared unequivocally: “We want to see reforms.”

“There is no discussion of cutting off aid,” Clinton told Amanpour on “This Week,” “and we are trying to convey a message that is clear — no violence, no provocation that results in violence, and that we want to see these reforms so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed.”

White House officials told ABC News that President Obama has been communicating a series of concrete steps to Mubarak, including more open dialogue between the government and opposition groups, greater respect for freedom of information and a lifting of an emergency law, in place since 1967, that gives the government sweeping powers over its citizens.

But in a sign of the uncertainties involved, a senior administration official told ABC’s Jake Tapper: “No one knows what comes next,” explaining what has been a largely cautious response by the White House to the crisis.

The latest from Cairo, according to a dispatch from Reuters, “Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appointed a new interior minister on Monday as part of a revamped cabinet designed to defuse the most serious challenge to his rule in three decades. But it was not immediately clear if the line-up, which now includes three former senior officers at the top, and promises of reform would be enough to mollify opposition groups and protesters calling for Mubarak and the old guard to step down.”

Watch Christiane Amanpour’s assessment of the situation on the ground in Cairo from “Good Morning America” today: as well as a report on the State Department’s evacuations of U.S. citizens from the country:

President Obama has no public events on his schedule today on Egypt, but aides say he is getting regular status reports. As we noted last week, the situation has the potential to be a set-back to the administration’s domestic agenda at a time when it seemed like momentum was in the president’s corner, but aides are determined not to let that happen.

The White House plans to hold a number of events this week focusing on innovation and the goal of “winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world,” which the president laid out in his State of the Union address last week.

Today, the White House will launch “Startup America,” which it calls "a national campaign to help America achieve these goals by promoting high-growth entrepreneurship across the country. The administration will announce several new initiatives aimed at encouraging the private sector to invest in new startups.

CARTER ON MUBARAK: Former President Jimmy Carter said Sunday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will likely be forced to step down because ‘the people have decided,’ The Hill newspaper reports. "‘This is the most profound situation in the Middle East since I left office,’ Carter said Sunday at a Baptist church in his hometown of Plains, Ga., where he teaches a Sunday school class, according to The Ledger-Enquirer. Carter, who as president brokered the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, called the situation in Egypt an 'earthshaking event' and said he has been watching the events unfold at Al Jazeera online."


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Karen Travers interview former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who is currently the CEO of the American Action Network, a group that was influential during the 2010 midterm elections. Also on the program, Christina Bellantoni Associate Politics Editor of CQ-.Roll Call. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.



HUNTSTMAN’S NEXT MOVE. "White House officials tell ABC News that the Obama administration expects the US Ambassador to China, former GOP Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, to step down from his post in the coming months to explore a possible 2012 run for president,” ABC’s Jake Tapper reports. “Huntsman did not respond to a request for comment. News of the White House's expectations of Huntsman's departure was first reported by Politico. … At the Alfalfa dinner Saturday night, White House Chief of Staff William Daley joked that President Obama ‘has no hard feelings,’ a White House source noted. ‘He just did an interview with the Tea Party Express about how integral he has been to the success of the Obama administration.’”

RUBIO’S LOW PROFILE. “A year ago, then-candidate Marco Rubio received a megastar welcome when he was introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) as a keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual gathering in Washington, D.C.” Roll Call’s Jackie Kucinich notes. “But when CPAC kicks off next week, Florida’s freshman Senator plans to be miles away from the gathering — with Lincoln Day dinners in Miami-Dade and Pinellas counties as the top priorities on his February calendar. The invitation to address the widely covered conservative meeting is far from the first request Rubio has turned down; it is part of a calculated effort to stay out of the national spotlight as much as possible.Rubio has turned down ‘hundreds’ of national media interview requests (including one for this article) since he was elected in November and instead has engaged only local press, according to sources close to the Florida Republican.”

DCCC LINES UP TARGETS. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced an advertising and grassroots campaign to “hold 19 vulnerable House Republicans accountable for choosing a partisan plan that will cost jobs and make America less competitive over the President’s common sense solutions to create jobs and get the economy moving again.”  The DCCC is going on the air with radio and web ads, phone calls and e-mailed in the following districts: Lou Barletta (PA-11); Charlie Bass (NH-02); Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25); Steve Chabot (OH-01); Chip Cravaack (MN-08); Robert Dold (IL-10); Sean Duffy (WI-07); Blake Farenthold (TX-27); Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08); Nan Hayworth (NY-19); Joe Heck (NV-03); Robert Hurt (VA-05); Thad McCotter (MI-11); Patrick Meehan (PA-07); Dave Reichert (WA-08) ; David Rivera (FL-25); Jon Runyan (NJ-03); Joe Walsh (IL-08); Allen West (FL-22).



@markknoller: Iran stands as a cautionary tale for the US where an extreme anti-American Islamic Republic took power after the ouster of the Shah.

@mlcalderone: Six Al Jazeera journos arrested and roundup of #Egypt media news. #jan25

@PJCrowley: We are concerned by the shutdown of #Al-Jazeera in #Egypt and arrest of its correspondents. Egypt must be open and the reporters released.

@SpeakerBoehner: More wasteful "stimulus" spending, Mr. President? If gov't "stimulus" spending is the key to growth, where are the jobs?

@RCParticles: @ErinMcPike reports on how Tim Pawlenty pushed a steel company to drop plans to invest in Iran in 2007


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